The Anonymous Widower

Rock Rail Wins Again!

This article on the Railway Gazette, is entitled Abellio Orders East Midlands Inter-City Fleet.

The order can be summarised as follows.

  • The trains will be Hitachi AT-300 trains
  • There will be thirty-three bi-mode trains of five cars.
  • The trains will be 125 mph capable.
  • Unlike the similar Class 802 trains, the trains will have 24 metre long cars, instead of 26 metres.
  • The new trains will have an extra diesel engine.
  • The new trains will cost a total of £400 million.

A few of my thoughts.

I shall constantly refer to an earlier post called Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022.

Cost Of The Trains

In the earlier post, I calculated that the five five-car AT-300 all-electric trains, ordered by First Group for London and Edinburgh services cost four million pounds per car.

Thirty-three trains at this four million pounds per car, works out at £660 million, which is sixty-five percent higher than the price Abellio is quoted as paying.

Abellio are actually paying just £2.42 million per car or forty percent less First Group.

So are Abellio buying a cut price special?

As Abellio East Midlands Railway will be competing up against LNER’s Azumas on some journeys, I can’t see that running a second class train would be a sound commercial decision.

I am left to the conclusion, that Abellio have got a very good deal from Hitachi.

What Diesel Power Is Used?

In a five-car Class 802 train, there are three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines, each of 700 kW , which gives a total power of 2,100 kW.

If the Abellio train needs this power, with four diesel engines, each must have 525 kW.

Not sure yet, but this could save a couple of tonnes in weight.

I doubt that Hitachi are dissatisfied with the performance of the MTU diesel engines in the current Class 800, 801 and 802 trains, as there are no media reports of any ongoing problems. So I feel that they could go with the same supplier for the trains for Abellio East Midlands Railway.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

Braking energy doesn’t appear to be re-used to power the train, but to provide hotel power for the train.

I talk about this in more detail in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

In my view, it is an outdated design compared to some of those seen in the latest road vehicles and trains from other manufacturers.

This is a sentence from the Railway Gazette article.

According to Hitachi, the EMR units will be an ‘evolution’ of the AT300 design supplied to other UK operators, with 24 m long vehicles rather than 26 m, and a slightly modified nose profile.

So does that evolution include regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

This could have advantages.

  • improved acceleration and smoother braking
  • Less electricity and diesel consumption.
  • No running of diesel engines in stations.

I’m only speculating, but could the batteries or supercapacitors be under the car without a diesel engine? A balanced design might make this the middle car of the train

There must also be the possibility, that instead of using MTU diesel engines, the trains use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Why shouldn’t Hitachi get their respected supplier to do as much of the hard work as possible?

Train Length

A five-car Class 222 train, which work the Midland Main Line now, consists of two 23.85 metre and three 22.82 metre cars. So it is 116.16 metres long.

The article says the cars in the new trains will be 24 metres long,,so a new train will be 1220 metres long or 3.84 metres longer.

This will probably mean that there will be no need for costly and disruptive platform lengthening at a couple of stations.

Capacity

Abellio have stated that passengers like having a table and that they will be offering a catering service

So will we see most seats having a table?

Chiltern have proved it’s a philosophy that works for all stakeholders!

This means that capacity comparisons with the current trains will be difficult, as you’re comparing apples with oranges.

Hopefully, we’ll get more details soon!

Splitting And Joining

I would assume the new trains will have the ability to split and join an route like the other Hitachi trains.

This could be very useful in organising trains in the limited number of paths South of Kettering.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

A Nose Job

I’m intrigued by the phrase “slightly different nose profile” in the extract I quoted earlier.

Have Hitachi’s champion origamists found a way of designing a train which can split and join with both an aerodynamic nose and a corridor connection?

After their experience with the Class 385 train and its curved windows, I suspect Hitachi have learned a lot. Could for instance one end of the five-car train have a Class 800-style nose and the other an improved Class 385-style front end?

Trains would mate blunt-to-blunt, so the Southern train would always point towards London and the Northern train would always point towards Sheffield.

I used to have a friend, who learned origami skills at Hiroshima in the 1950s, whilst doing National Service in the Army.

I don’t think my proposal is impossible, but I’l admit it’s unusual!

  • The blunt end might have a pair of doors, each with a flat window, thus giving the driver an uninterrupted view, when driving from that end.
  • When the trains connected the doors would open and swing forward. The gang way would unfold probably from under the cab The driver’s desk would probably fold away, as the two cabs wouldn’t be needed in a ten-car train.
  • Connect and disconnect would be totally automatic.

Effectively, two five-car trains would convert into a ten-car train.

The Number Of Trains

In my earlier post, I estimated that Abellio East Midlands Railway would buy 140 bi-mode carriages.

This works out as 35 trains, as against the thirty-three actually ordered.

This is close enough to say, that these new trains are only for main line services and will not be used on the electric services to Corby, which I estimate will be another seven 240 metre-long electric trains

A Complete Fleet Renewal

This is a paragraph from the Railway Gazette article.

Abellio UK Managing Director Dominic Booth said the new trains would ‘form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway’, representing ‘a more than £600m investment to really improve the region’s railway’.

When Abellio say renewal, they mean renewal.

So will Bombardier or another manufacturer receive a consolation prize of the seven high-capacity 240 metre long electric trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service?

A version of the Abellio part-owned, West Midlands Trains‘s, Class 730 train, would surely do just fine.

The Role Of Rock Rail

The trains will be leased from Rock Rail.

The Rock Rail web site gives this insight.

Rock Rail’s game changing approach to rolling stock funding has:

  • Enabled long term institutional investors to invest directly into a new sector.
  • Driven better value for government, operators and passengers.
  • Extended the market for infrastructure finance.

Rock Rail works closely with the franchise train operators and manufactures to ensure a collaborative approach to design, manufacture and acceptance of the new state of the art trains on time and to budget as well as to manage the long-term residual value and releasing risks.

It’s obviously an approach that has worked, as they have been behind three rolling stock deals at they have funded trains for Moorgate services, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway in recent months.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway makes that a fourth major fleet.

Take a few minutes to explore their web site.

Rock Rail say their backers are institutional investors. So who are these faceless institutions with deep pockets.

I have seen Standard Life Aberdeen mentioned in connection with Rock Rail. This Scottish company has £670 billion of funds under management and it is the second largest such company in Europe.

Companies like these need secure long term investments, that last thirty to forty years, so that pension and insurance funds can be invested safely to perhaps see us through retirement. I know that some of my pension is invested in a product from Standard Life Aberdeen, so perhaps I might ultimately own a couple of threads in a seat cover on a train!

As the Government now insists everybody has a pension, there is more money looking for a safe mattress!

Rock Rail allows this money to be used to purchase new trains.

Rock Rail seem to be bringing together train operators, train manufacturers and money to give train operators, their staff and passengers what they want. I seem to remember that Abellio did a lot of research in East Anglia about the train service that is needed.

Conclusion

Abellio have made a very conservative decision to buy trains from Htachi, but after my experiences of riding in Class 800, 801 and 802 trains in the last few months, it is a decision, that will satisfy everyone’s needs.

Unless of course, Hitachi make a horrendous mess of the new trains!

But the four fleets, they have introduced into the UK, have only suffered initial teething troubles and don’t seem to have any long term problems.

There are some small design faults, which hopefully will be sorted in the new trains.

  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • The carriage of bicycles and other large luggage.

The second will be more difficult to solve as passengers seem to bring more and more with them every year.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

The title of this post is the saqme as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

An Outing To Oxford

I do a bit of research for a Californian lawyer, who helps small and medium-sized high-tech and other ventures setup in the UK.

He likes my opinion on the plans of start-ups and established businesses with respect to their location in the UK.

A couple of days ago, I received this e-mail.

John and his friends are funding a new venture being setup in Oxford.

The proposed CEO is a recently-widowed sixty-one year-old Canadian, who will be moving to London, where her daughter and family currently live.

Can you tell me, what it would be like commuting out from London to Oxford perhaps three days a week?

I should also say that at the moment, she is in need of having hip replacement surgery and proposes to have that in London, where she will be near to her family, during her stay.

She wouldn’t be able to walk a long distance.

This was my reply.

I can’t see much of a problem, as knowing John, the business could probably afford a few taxis and Crossrail will hopefully start running within the next eighteen months, making the London end straightforward.

Today, I went to Oxford leaving on the 09:50 train from Paddington and returning on the 13:01. Partly, to see if there were any pitfalls in the plan and also to have coffee and a snack with an old friend in the City, who helped me very much with the algorithms for Artemis.

These are my thoughts on the journey.

Trains

I travelled out in a comfortable nine-car Class 802 train. I’m not sure, whether it was the same on return or a shorter five-car train.

The outward journey was busier than the return journey, as I suspect that quite a few people live in London and work in Reading or Oxford.

But I did get a table both ways, so I was able to lay my copy of The Times flat and read it properly.

Cost

Off Peak Day Return tickets with a Senior Railcard, are  £18.30 in Standard Class and £49.25 in First Class.

As I have a Freedom Pass, I bought a Standard Class Off Peak Day Return between the Zone 6 boundary and Oxford for just £13.05 with my Senior Railcard.

I consider my ticket to be good value for a pensioner’s day out!

Journey Times And Frequency

Both trains took about an hour.

There are also two fast trains per hour, many of which are nine-car trains, with the remainder being five-car trains.

,Coffee, Tea And Snacks

I was surprised to see a trolley on the train.

But I don’t think much business was being done.

Oxford Station And Oxford City Centre

There were plenty of taxis at Oxford station, but I walked the distance both ways in under twenty minutes.

A friend, who has had an NHS double hip replacement, reckons she could walk it easily.

The biggest problem would appear to be the traffic and the narrow pavements

Note, that there are a few maps and some decent cafes and restaurants.

Conclusion

Travelling from London to Oxford is a very feasible daily commute and there are many worse ways of spending an hour on a train.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | 2 Comments

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puzzled By New Fleets For TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express (TPE) are replacing all their trains, but their choice of three different new fleets puzzles me.

The new fleets and their routes are as follows.

Nova1

This is a fleet of nineteen five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, with probably a frequency of one tph

Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle, which I estimate will take 4:15 hours

Manchester Airport and Newcastle, which takes around 2:45 hours

These two services would probably need nine for the Edinburgh service and six for the Manchester Airport service.

This means that there are four extra trains.

If there is a spare or one in maintenance, that means that two trains are available to boost capacity on busy services if needed, by running a ten-car train.

I doubt that ten-car services to Manchester Airport could be run through the Castlefield Corridor due to the inadequate stations, but Liverpool and Edinburgh might be a route for longer trains.

I have some observations on Nova1.

  • The trains are 125 mph trains, that can be upgraded to 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • The trains will share the East Coast Main Line with LNER’s Azumas, which are other members of te same family of Hitachi trains.

The trains have been authorised to start running services.

Nova2

This is a fleet of twelve electric Class 397 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes,

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, which takes around 3:30 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh, which takes around 3:15 hours.
  • New route – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which could take around 3:30 hours.

Currently, the two existing routes run at a frequency of one train per two hours, which would probably need at least seven trains.

This probably means that there will be four trains left for the service between Liverpool and Glasgow, if it assumed there is one train spare or in maintenance.

As a round trip between the two cities, would probably take eight hours, it looks like the frequency will be one train per two hours.

This would give the following services, all with a frequency of one train per two hours.

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central

Passengers wanting to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh should keep reading.

I have some observations on Nova2.

  • They are 125 mph trains that are replacing the 110 mph Class 350 trains.
  • In the next few years, these 125 mph trains will be sharing the West Coast Main Line with faster trains like Class 390 trains and the trains of High Speed Two, both of which should be capable of 140 mph, when running using in-cab signalling.
  • I would assume that the trains can be similarly upgraded, otherwise they will have to be replaced.
  • There was an option for more trains, but I suspect the success of Class 802 trains on the Great Western Railway led to it not being taken up.,

The trains should come into service later this year.

Nova3

This is a fleet of five-car rakes of Mark 5A coaches, hauled by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.

There are fourteen locomotives and driving van trailers, with enough coaches for thirteen rakes.

I would suspect that TPE are aiming to have twelve trains available for service.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, which both have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, which takes around 2:45 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough, which takes around 2:45 hours.

So with turnround at both ends, I suspect that a six hour round trip is possible. So to provide the two hourly services across the Pennines, TPE will need six trains for each route.

This explains a fleet size of twelve operational trains.

I have two observations on Nova3.

  • They are diesel-powered and will be running at times on electrified lines. But I suspect the diesel Class 68 locomotive could be replaced in the future with an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive.
  • Questions have been raised about the speed of exit and entry from the coaches through single end doors of the coaches.
  • They have an operating speed of only 100 mph, but opportunities for higher speeds on the routes are limited to perhaps thirty to forty miles on the East Coast Main Line.

At least they should be in service within a couple of months.

Why Didn’t TPE Order A Unified Fleet?

To summarise TPE have ordered the following trains.

  • Nova1 – Nineteen Class 802 trains
  • Nova2 – Twelve Class 397 trains.
  • Nova3 – Thirteen trains consisting of four coaches topped and tailed by a a Class 68 locomotive and driving van trailer.

All forty-four trains are five cars.

Surely, it would have been easier for TPE to have a fleet, where all the trains were the same.

I suspect that all routes can be run using Class 802 trains, so it as not as if there are any special requirements for the trains.

So why didn’t TPE order a fleet of Class 802 trains?

I can only think of these reasons.

  • Hitachi couldn’t supply the required number of trains in the appropriate time-scale.
  • ,CAF made an offer that TPE couldn’t refuse.

It should also be born in mind that Great Western Railway and Hull Trains, which like TPE are  First Group companies, went down the Class 802 route.

The Future

There are various issues, that will arise in the future.

Nova2 And West Coast Main Line Operating Speed

The new Nova trains are running on TPE’s Northern and Scottish routes and as I indicated earlier, the Nova2 trains might not be fast enough in a few years time for the West Coast Main Line, which will have Class 390 trains running at 140 mph using in-cab signalling.

High Speed Two will surely make this incompatibility worse, unless CAF can upgrade the Nova2 trains for 140 mph running.

Replacing the Nova2 trains with Class 802 trains, which are being built for 140 mph running, would solve the problem.

Nova3 And Class 68 Locomotives

There are powerful reasons to replace diesel locomotives on the UK’s railways, with noise, pollution and carbon emissions at the top of the list.

As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, there will be more electrification between Manchester and York, adding to the pressure to change the traction.

  • There could be a change of locomotives to Class 88 or Class 93 locomotives, which would run using the overhead electrification, where it exists.
  • The trains could be changed to Class 802 trains.

The Class 68 locomotive is increasingly looking like an interim solution. At least, it’s a less polluting locomotive, than the dreaded and ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive.

Class 185 Replacement

TPE will still have a fleet of diesel three-car Class 185 trains.

  • They are running on routes between Manchester and Hull and Cleethorpes via Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield.
  • These are best described as just-about-adequate trains and are one of The Treasury’s boob-buys.
  • As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, they will be increasingly running under wires.
  • Could it be likely that more capacity will be needed on routes run by these trains?
  • The capacity of a Class 185 train is 169 seats, as opposed to the 342 seats of a five-car Class 802 train.

I think it could be very likely that instead of running pairs of Class 185 trains, TPE will replace them with five-car Class 802 trains.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that over the next few years, TPE’s fleet will change further in the direction of a one-unified fleet!

 

 

 

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bedwyn, Didcot Parkway And Oxford Services After Crossrail Opens To Reading

When Crossrail opens to Reading as it is rumoured with happen in December 2019, what will happen to the Great Western Railway (GWR) services to Bedwyn, Dicot Parkway and Oxford?

The Current Services

These services currently run to these destinations from London Paddington station.

  • Bedwyn station has an hourly service, that goes non stop between London and Reading and then calls at all stations between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Didcot Parkway station has a two trains per hour (tph) stopping service, that stops at most stations, including those between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Oxford station has a two tph fast service.
  • Reading station has a two tph stopping service, that stops at most stations.
  • The Didcot Parkway and Reading services give London and Reading a four tph electric service.
  • Other trains stop at important stations and there are some shuttle trains serving Reading, Didcot Parkway and Oxford.

Recent developments have included

  • Oxford and Bedwyn services now generally seem to run from the main station.
  • The fast Oxford services now run by Class 802 trains.

GWR are also testing running Class 802 trains to Bedwyn.

Future Services To Bedwyn

The turnback facility at Bedwyn station has been upgraded, so that it can take a five-car Class 802 train.

When some sighting and safety issues are settled, it is likely that Class 802 trains will take over services to Bedwyn.

  • Five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains will be used.
  • Trains will not stop between London and Reading.
  • Trains will stop at all station between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Trains will run on electric power between London and Newbury.
  • Trains will run on diesel power between Newbury and Bedwyn.

Will the current seventy minute time be reduced by the faster trains, running at higher speed between London and Reading?

Battery Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about how batteries could be added to Class 385 trains, so they could run services without electrification.

Consider.

  • Class 802 and Class 385 trains are both both members of Hitachi’s A-Train family, sharing many features and systems.
  • Newbury to Bedwyn and back is about thirty miles.
  • Batteries could be charged between London and Newbury.

I very much feel that if Hitachi apply battery technology to the Class 802 trains, that Bedwyn could be an ideal test destination.

Extension Of Bedwyn Services To Marlborough

In A Station For Marlborough, I wrote about a local plan to open a new station in the twon of Marlborough, which would be on a single track branch, that leaves the main line to the West of Bedwyn.

Class 802 trains with a battery capability, would be the ideal trains for this extension.

Future Services To Oxford

GWR have started running bi-mode Class 802 trains to Oxford at a frequency of two tph

  • Services stop at Slough and Reading.
  • I have seen nine-car trains on this route.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

The service is augmented with a diesel shuttle between Oxford and Didcot Parkway.

  • This service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • One train every two hours is extended to Banbury.
  • This service is the only way to get to the intermediate stations of Appleford, Culham and Radley.

I very much feel that services between London and Oxford can be improved.

Four tph To Oxford

If train companies feel that Reading is worth four tph on Crossrail between the city and London, surely Oxford needs a four tph GWR service to the capital.

  • Two would be fast trains stopping only at Reading and Slough.
  • Two would stop at Slough and all stations between Reading and Oxford.
  • Bi-mode Class 802 trains would be used.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

Note.

  1. All intermediate stations would have a direct two tph service to London, Reading and Oxford.
  2. Currently, many journeys involve a long wait or a change at Didcot Parkway.

In addition, no station between Reading and Didcot Parkway gets a worse service than they do now, with the Class 387 trains to Didcot Parkway.

Battery Trains To Oxford

If Hitachi develop them, why not?

A Reading And Oxford Shuttle

I very much believe that important commuter routes need a frequency of four tph, as this enables a Turn-Up-And-Go service and encourage passenger numbers. Especially on a route like Reading and Oxford, where there is a lot of new housing being built.

If two tph are run between London and Oxford, stopping at all staions between Reading and Oxford, perhaps the way to give this service would be to run a shuttle between Reading and Oxford using bi-mode Class 769 trains.

  • A two tph shuttle would give four tph at all intermediate stations.
  • Trains would run on electric power between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Trains would run on diesel power between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • Some or all trains could be extended to Banbury.
  • I estimate that four trains would,d be needed for two tph.

Oxford would only be getting the quality of railway system a city of its size and standing needs.

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope to improve the train services in the Thames Valley, whether or no Crossrail takes over the Reading services.

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of 45 Class 387 trains

Twelve trains are currently being converted to Heathrow Express duties.

But if Crossrail takes over services between London and Reading, then their main use wuill have disappeared.

As Reading to Oxford is not fully-electrified, they can’t be used on this route, but both Class 802 and Class 769 trains can.

There may be used for trains on routes like.

  • Reading and Didcot Parkway
  • Reading and Newbury

But there won’t be opportunities to use thirty-three trains.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

If Crossrail Opens To Reading In December 2019, How Will It Terminate In Paddington?

If you look at the Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, the services on the Western Branch are the following in trains per hour (tph).

  • Reading and Abbey Wood (5 stops) – Two tph in the Peak, None in the Off-Peak
  • Reading and Abbey Wood (12 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood (10 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Two tph all day

If these services terminate in Paddington station, then the station must be able to handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph at all other times.

Perhaps two platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5 services, handling six tph all day.

Or to give a bit of spare capacity and make it easier for passengers, three platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 services, handling four tph all day
  • Hesthrow Terminal 5 services, handling two tph all day

For convenience, services could terminate in the two Northernmost platforms 12,and 14. 13 hseems to have disappeared.

  • These platforms have their own short gate line.
  • They are on the same side of the station, as the slow lines that Crossrail will use to leave the station.
  • Platform 14 is 164 metres long, with platforms 11 and 12 longer.

Could these two platforms be turned into a self-contained Crossrail station?

  • Each platform could handle six tph.
  • I don’t think full-length nine-car Crossrail trains could be used, but seven-car trains could fit a 164 metre platform.
  • The lighting needs to be improved.
  • If these platforms could be used for exclusively for Crossrail, there would be no crossing of tracks outside the station involving Crossrail trains.
  • It would be convenient for passengers as they’d just go to the Crossrail station and through the gate.

But above all, there would not be a lot of work needed to create a Crossrail station.

Unless it was decided to make all platforms capable of handling full-length trains. But hopefully, it would only be needed for a couple of years.

Conclusion

Platform 12 and 14 at Paddington could be converted into a two-platform Crossrail station handling seven-car Class 345 trains, at a frequency of twelve tph, with its own gate line.

 

 

 

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The trains are Class 802 trains, similar to those used by FirstGroup companies; Hull Trains and Great Western Railway.

These are some points from the article.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

These are my observations.

Earlier Start

I suspect that the service can’t start earlier, due to one of the following.

  • The lead time in building the trains.
  • Completion of the new Werrington Junction.
  • Completion of the sorting of Kings Cross.
  • Completion of the works at Stevenage station.

The track works will probably be needed to create the extra paths needed on the East Coast Main Line.

Electric-Only Trains

Most other Class 802 trains are bi-mode trains, but will these be electric-only?

Capacity Issues

If the trains prove too small, they can just add extra carriages or two trains can run as a pair.

Timetables

Trains will probably take nine hours for a round-trip, allowing 30 minutes for turnround.

This would mean that two trains leaving London and Edinburgh at six, would arrive back at home after two round trips around midnight.

Conclusion

I think it will be a successful service.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Hitachi Rolling Stock Unveiled by Hull Trains As Part Of £60m Investment

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

Five new Class 802 trains will replace Hull Train‘s current fleet of four Class 180 trains and an InterCity 125.

Currently, the InterCity 125 runs the service between Kings Cross and Beverley stations, whilst three Class 180 trains are needed to run the six round trips between Kings Cross and Hull stations.

So Hull Trains have a spare train, that can be in maintenance.

With five new Class 802 trains, replacing the current fleet, four will be needed for the current service, thus leaving a spare train.

The new trains will give various advantages.

  • The Class new 802 trains have a top speed of 140 mph, whereas the current Class 180 trains can only do 125 mph.
  • The Class 802 trains have an increase of thirteen percent in seating capacity.
  • They will obviously have a better interior, with everything passengers expect.

In a few years time, the extra speed may offer a big advantage.

The Southern part of the East Coast Main Line is being upgraded to allow 140 mph running, which would probably save around ten minutes on a journey between Kings Cross and Hull stations.

Could this time-saving mean, that extra services between Kings Cross and Hull stations are possible?

If 140 mph running allowed a round trip in under five hours, I have a feeling this could mean over ten trains per day in each direction, if there are enough paths available.

But flights of Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains running at 140 mph might just do it.

Conclusion

What would ten trains per day between Kings Cross and Hull, do for the economy of Hull?

The East Coast Main Line might not have the 250 mph operating speed of High Speed Two, but 140 mph isn’t that slow.

 

 

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment